April 9, 2012
Hot 7: Scrimmage One
It was a tough day Saturday morning for the offense, as the defense clearly had the upper hand and limited the Tech offense severely. Today, we identify three offensive and four defensive players who stood out during the open scrimmage.
Martin Scales, RB
Most expect Michael Holmes and J.C. Coleman to get most of the carries, but Scales was clearly the best running back on the field Saturday morning. He is a very large, powerful, physical runner that is exceptionally difficult to bring down. You won't see Scales go down very often on the first tackle or with just one guy trying to bring him down. He displayed great balance and effort on one such play, channeling his inner David Wilson to shake free of a couple defenders in the whole, bounce to the outside, stiff-arm Kris Harley straight to the turf, and then continue to the outside for good pickup.
David Mellstrom, WR
After catching a touchdown during Wednesday night's mini-scrimmage, the redshirt freshman walk-on came through against Saturday morning with the only offensive touchdown of the game. He got behind the defender and easily hauled in a touchdown in the North End zone of Lane Stadium, continuing an impressive spring practice for the walk-on. He also got some work on punt returns during the drill portion prior to the scrimmage.
Nick Becton, LT
The offensive line as a unit struggled and multiple Virginia Tech defensive line had big days, but Nick Becton was able to prevent J.R. Collins and anyone else who lined up against him from getting to the quarterback's blind side, which was very encouraging. If Becton can keep the guys he is blocking away from Logan Thomas like he did Saturday, the rest of the offensive line will surely fall into place.
Donaldven Manning, CB
Manning is as small as advertised, there's no doubt about it, but it is obvious he can flat out play. There is no way he gets redshirted this year, not only due to the lack of depth at the position but more so because he will definitely be able to handle it. He had some outstanding coverage downfield when he leaned the receiver into the sideline to make it an impossible catch and had a terrific break on a quick slant as well. Manning's already shown he has great instincts and isn't afraid of contact despite his size. He came up impressively in run support as well and seems to understand his size limitations, as he went right at the legs to step make the stop.
Luther Maddy, DT
While Derrick Hopkins is terrific in gap-control and right around the line of scrimmage, Maddy looks like he is ready to become a very good and dangerous playmaker at defensive tackle. He is physically strong enough to handle any guard in the ACC, but has managed to maintain his quickness as well. Maddy had his way with Brent Benedict and Matt Arkema all day along and I think it would unfair not to credit a couple of the false starts on Maddy's effort and momentum as well. The experience he gained playing a lot in the fall as a true freshman is definitely paying off.
Antone Exum, CB
For a guy just making the transition to cornerback, Exum really made it seem like he has been playing the position for years on Saturday. Exum is as impressive physically as anyone on the team, as he looks more like a WHIP than a corner when in his full uniform. He successfully defended a couple deep balls thrown towards E.L. Smiling and was stout as expected in run support. In addition, it was encouraging to see his interactions with Torrian Gray, as it seems they are both on the same page and really motivated to make this move a successful one as quickly as possible.
Dadi Nicolas, DE
Nicolas was a part of the third string defense, so he got all his reps against fellow third teamers, but you could definitely see the potential. He doesn't look as big physically as had been reported, but he definitely plays as fast as reported and packs a punch at the point of attack, as Daniel Dyer learned on one play in the backfield. Nicolas has a bright, bright future in Orange and Maroon and it will be very interesting to see how much he improves over the next two weeks. Something tells me it will be a very large improvement as he gets more and more reps.
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